When woman&home teamed up with JustOneThing365 to give one lucky *reader the chance to win a R120 000 makeover, we could never have imagined how beautiful the stories we’d receive from deserving winners would be. However, Christine Kuch stood out from the rest. As an SPCA inspector and now volunteer, she has seen the best and worst side of humans, and has saved countless animals in her quest to make a difference.
Here is more about our fascinating winner…
I got involved with the SPCA, almost accidentally, way back in the late 80s. I then moved to the national council of SPCA in ’98. The director approached me and said, ‘we’re looking for a qualified inspector with journalistic experience’. I was there full time until two years ago. I didn’t cut ties after that. I’m still working for the Roodepoort SPCA on an ad hoc basis – because that is where my heart is. I’m now the SPCA Trustee for The Giving Organisation.
A rescue that sticks in my mind was a call-out on a Saturday afternoon on FA Cup Final Day. It appeared to be a hoax when someone who had clearly been drinking said a monkey in the pub had taken his seat. When I asked what it was doing, he told me it was eating peanuts from the bowl on the bar. It wasn’t a hoax. Someone’s tame pet monkey had escaped and decided to go to the pub. The Star newspaper reported that the SPCA had given the monkey the red card, adding that the monkey had seen the winning goal. I missed it, and I am a huge soccer fan so that hurt!
Bad things happen, but it’s the good stuff that always brings tears to my eyes. There was a schoolboy who walked from Germiston with a yowling, starving kitten in his arms, that he had found at school. All he cared about was taking her to safety. When asked why he had walked all that way, he answered truthfully, “I had to walk because my bike had been stolen.” An appeal for a bike in the NSPCA newsletter led to a kind person donating a racing bike to the boy. The hero kitten saver came to see us on his bike that Christmas and received a very warm welcome.
I don’t believe that you can compartmentalise. I know some people have a heart for children, some for the elderly and others for the disabled. I have a heart for animals. But if you care about animals, you are not the kind of person who could be unkind to a child.
I believe it’s all about ‘one step at a time’. I believe that’s where people go wrong – they try to go the whole hog, all at once. Can you cut down on your use of plastic? That’s huge! How many billion people say ‘it’s just one straw, it doesn’t matter’? If you think that it does, it will make a huge difference. If I can relate this to animals, it may be as simple as sourcing more ethical activities during school holidays for family and friends, or checking that the cosmetics you use aren’t tested on animals. Whatever your passion is, there is a small change you can make. And if you do it for one day, doing it for the next is so much easier, and then it gains momentum.
On her winning makeover…
I’ll be honest, I’m actually terrified of hairdressers! But he [Matthew Mansoor from Veaudry International] was so realistic. And I think all the people I’ve encountered have also been grounded in that sense. It is life-changing in that you do start to look at things differently. However, nobody tried to mould me into something I wasn’t. That, I think, is the most pleasing part. While there have been definite improvements – skin, hair, you name it – I feel like a better person, and I definitely feel more confident, but I’m still me! That’s the important bit. So to everybody involved, a huge thank you.
On her photoshoot…
It was a huge pleasure and very interesting. Again, I’ve learnt a lot – I’m a big sloucher, but I’ve learned not to slouch. But thanks to everybody, it’s been a lot of fun.
JustOneThing365 founder Petra Laranjo is a South African inspirational speaker, published author of ‘Living On Purpose’, life and career coach, who aspires to help people reach their potential with purpose and confidence, so that they can live fulfilled and inspired lives. Her JustOneThing365 initiative encourages people to perform one small act of kindness each day, to better a difference to either people, the planet or animals.
*Christine won a R120 000 makeover including professional hair styling, a glamorous video and photoshoot, full skin treatments, a cruelty free beauty hamper, as well as life coaching from image specialist and life coach Petra Laranjo from JustOneThing365.
For the competition woman&home partnered with Petra Laranjo, Craig Hourquebie Photographer, Cabo d’Mar, EyeSlices, Real Media, REVIV, Matthew Monsoor (HQ Hair Design), DMK, Visage Vogue, MUD Cosmetics, Melissa Alves, Life Med Aesthetics, The Laser Beautique, Northcliff, SynerChi Organics and Sun Goddess.